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25.02.2014 18:20

European stock close

European stocks were little changed, climbing to a six-year high, as companies from Vivendi SA (VIV) to Fresenius Medical Care AG posted results.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.1 percent to 338.65 at 4:31 p.m. in London. The gauge has advanced 5 percent this month, following a 1.8 percent decline in January, as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen pledged to continue her predecessor’s stimulus policies to support the U.S. economy.

In the U.S., a report showed that the S&P/Case-Shiller index of property prices in 20 cities climbed 13.4 percent in December from December 2012 after a 13.7 percent gain in the year ended in November. That is in line with the median forecast of economists.

Separate data showed that a gauge of confidence among U.S. consumers fell to 78.1 this month from 79.4 in January.

In China, the Shanghai Composite Index plunged 2 percent and the yuan weakened the most since November 2010 on concern that a weaker property market will crimp growth. The nation’s central bank is draining funds from the financial system as lower money-market rates signal ample supplies of yuan amid a government drive to clean up risky lending practices.

National benchmark indexes gained in 10 of the 18 western-European markets today.

FTSE 100 6,845.36 -20.50 -0.30% CAC 40 4,412.97 -6.16 -0.14% DAX 9,703.91 -5.03 -0.05%

Vivendi declined 1.3 percent to 20.98 euros. Sales in the fourth quarter fell 4.6 percent to 5.95 billion euros ($8.2 billion), trailing the 6.03 billion-euro average analyst estimate.

Fresenius Medical Care dropped 5.8 percent to 49.80 euros. The company expects net income will be between $1 billion and $1.05 billion this year compared to $1.1 billion in 2013 as governments reduce health spending. The high end of the forecast range is lower than the $1.19 billion average of 20 analysts’ estimates.

Parent company Fresenius SE slid 3.8 percent to 114.45 euros. It forecast adjusted net income will rise 2 percent to 5 percent in 2014, excluding currency shifts, slowing from last year’s 14 percent growth rate.

Aixtron SE declined 6.9 percent to 11.59 euros. The German maker of equipment for semiconductors reported fourth-quarter sales of 51.1 million euros, missing the 53.4 million euros analysts had projected. The company also posted a loss for earnings before interest and taxes of 12.6 million euros, compared with the 7.7 million-euro loss analysts had estimated.

Ashmore Group Plc (ASHM) sank 7.3 percent to 315.3 pence after the U.K. emerging-markets money manager reported $2.9 billion of net outflows in its fiscal first half as investors sought to avoid assets in developing economies. Pretax profit slumped 34 percent to 79.5 million pounds ($133 million) in the six months to Dec. 31 from a year earlier.

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